The former President of the Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who died Wednesday at the age of 94, was buried this Saturday in Authon in Loir-et-Cher. Emmanuel Macron greeted Thursday evening a “central figure in the history of our Republic”, and declared a day of national mourning, Wednesday, December 9. This Sunday at 8:50 pm, Arte will broadcast “1974, Party of the Campaign”, the documentary by Raymond Depardon which follows step by step the campaign of VGE until its victorious election on May 19, 1974.
In the images, despite his apparent relaxation, we see him grumpy. He plague against his friend Michel d’Ornano, invited on the first television channel to comment on the results of the presidential election. ” It is stunning, stunning. I told him not to go, and he is speaking out, ”he annoys over the phone, with the faithful Michel Poniatowski, whom he is preparing to make his Minister of the Interior.
It is 8:05 p.m. Instead of savoring his triumph, he hangs up the Bakelite handset, gets up and zaps directly to the station. On the second channel, it is this time his Gaullist rallies from the second round who are shrinking. “They are not concerned. What did they do? »He mutters, exasperated to hear them digress on the course that should be given to« his »seven-year term.
VIDEO. Death of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: 5 moments that marked his political life
The images of the crowd of activists swaddled in T-shirts “Giscard at the bar”, who exult in front of their headquarters in the 8th arrondissement, finally make him half a smile. But the discussions of trays return quickly. Tired, he tears himself out of his chair again and turns on the 3rd channel which broadcasts an American TV movie in which a couple’s argument breaks out: “I’m not happy with what you did. We talk about it on all television channels! “ Definitely …
Is it the very tight score that darkens his mood? “51% against 49% to François Mitterrand”, cautiously estimate the pollsters while the Louis XV style clock strikes 8:30 pm. Giscard expected a larger victory, but he is president. At only 48 years old, the ambitious Minister of Finance succeeded in his raid on the Elysee Palace, six weeks after the death of Georges Pompidou: he overtook Chaban-Delmas, official heir to Gaullism, before beating on the wire the candidate of the united left.
VGE dreams of immortalizing its march to the top
Neither close collaborators, nor friends, nor family. It is alone that he has an appointment with his destiny in the luxurious official apartment he occupies in the Louvre … as if he was already preparing for the solitary exercise of power. To tell the truth, he is not quite alone. Two intruders attend the coronation: Raymond Depardon on camera, and his accomplice Bernard Ortion for the sound recording. In the image, we can surreptitiously distinguish their silhouette in the reflection of the golden mirror. The only imprint they leave in these 90 minutes dedicated to the centrist’s victorious campaign.
Who imagines for a single moment General de Gaulle flanked by two reporters on the day of his Republican anointing? Giscard served him in government but his reference is rather American: John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Three initials – JFK, VGE – flapping in the wind of modernity, and the same desire to dust off political communication. In 1960, Richard Leacock’s camera accompanied the spirited suitor to the White House.
Depardon, a 32-year-old photoreporter in sight but a neophyte filmmaker, dreams of repeating in France this experience of “direct cinema”, which he finds revolutionary. It remains to convince Giscard, but this will not be the most difficult, as the Minister dreams of immortalizing his march to the top on film. The deal was quickly concluded: 100,000 francs financed by VGE, in exchange for his promise of continued access to his campaign.
Depardon follows him into his Peugot 504
Alas, the beginnings are routine. Meetings, walkabouts, walks in the Saint-Cloud park… nothing more. At the end of three weeks, Depardon threatens to stop everything if the candidate does not open the doors to him more. The next day, he is authorized to climb into his Peugeot 504. Here he is up close, not missing any of his ridiculous combs, or the boredom that arises during a razor-sharp conversation with a local baron.
The Éclair camera follows him home, cleaning his transistor or chewing on a piece of sausage. Depardon and his sidekick then infiltrate the strategic between-round meeting, much to the chagrin of “Ponia” and his campaign team. “Do not worry, it’s for me,” he reassures in the tone of the monarch. We even hear him discussing curtly with Pierre Messmer, the Prime Minister, before hanging up and whistling his Labrador… Cruel.
Giscard authorizes its distribution … in 2002
By the way, who is manipulating whom? The director who leaves his camera running even when his star believes it is silent, or the actor who unrolls his score, sure of his art? “You took pictures of the crowd,” VGE asks. Yes, but will he show them?
Giscard enters the Elysée and Depardon in the editing room. The president will see the film three times, each more uncomfortable. Until no longer respond to the unhappy filmmaker by imposing a silence of 28 years. Did he find the images too trivial for a president? For showing himself in a too cynical light during a strategic meeting where he professed not to move to ensure victory? Maybe he was just worried about hurting his friend Ornano…
The cursed film will become cult under the effect of the censorship of its producer. In February 2002, “the former” will finally authorize its broadcast (on Arte) without further explanation, but after having imposed this strange title: “1974, a part of the countryside”. And today, a piece of history.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr